Return Migration from the UAE : The Case of Kerala International Seminar on Socio - Cultural Exchange between UAE & Kerala 17-19 July, 2011 Department of Arabic University of Kerala N. Shamnad Department of Arabic, University College, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala
Gulf: The case of Kerala • About two million people from Kerala work abroad, almost 90% are in the Gulf • One out of every three or four Indians living in Gulf has been a Keralite • Non-resident Keralites (NRKs) send back close to US$8 billion in remittances annually, more than double the state's tax revenues • NRKs have remitted more than US$42 billion to Kerala in the last 35 years In Kerala, Gulf Emigration might have contributed more to poverty alleviation than any other factor including agrarian reforms, trade union activism and social welfare legislation Source : Zachariah, Mathew and Irudaya Rajan, 2003; Zachariah and Irudaya Rajan, 2007; 2009, Centre for Development Studies (CDS), Thiruvananthapuram
Return Migration from Gulf • Return emigrants have become a demographically, politically and economically significant component of Kerala’s population • At present • - one out of every 29 persons in Kerala • - one out of every 22 adult population of Kerala (15+) • - one out of every 19 working age population of Kerala (15-59 years) • one out of every 9 working age male population of Kerala • are return emigrants • Corresponding to every 100 households in Kerala, there are 16 return emigrants; 12 of them have at least one return emigrant. • About 1.3 percent households have more than one return emigrant. • At present, there are roughly over 1.3 million return emigrants in Kerala. Three years ago, KMS [Kerala Migration Survey], 2008 of CDS, Kerala, estimated that there were about 1.157 million return emigrants Ten years earlier, KMS 1998 enumerated 7.4 lakhs return emigrants. The number of return emigrants is expected to increase to about 1.6 million by 2015. Source: K. C. Zachariah, S. IrudayaRajan, March 2011, From Kerala To Kerala via the Gulf: Emigration Experiences of Return Emigrants, CDS, Thiruvananthapuram
Return Migration Source: Zachariah and Rajan, 2009, CDS, Kerala & The Guardian, Monday 6 April 2009 More than 2,00,000 workers in the Gulf have returned to India as a result of global financial crisis. Millions of Indians in Gulf countries under the fear of job loss. Some have been asked to go on long leave while some receive half or a quarter of their salary. No official estimate of how many people are returning every week. Remittances from the Gulf are declining Some of the return emigrants identified in KMS 2008 re-migrated to become emigrants once again. They were about 9.549 % of the total return emigrants or about 110,494 when projected to the Kerala population.
Return Migration from Gulf • Malappuram has the largest number of emigrants (15.3 %); it has the largest number of return emigrants also (19.0 %). • Trivandrum is the second largest with respect to emigration and is also the second largest with respect to return emigration. • The propensity to return is greater in Trivandrum than in Malappuram when we measure the return emigrants as a percentage of emigrants. • On that basis, it appears that the preferred districts for resettlement of Kerala’s return emigrants are (in order of importance) Trivandrum, Malappuram, Thrissur, Kollam and Ernakulam. • Muslims are disproportionately over-represented among the emigrants and return emigrants. • Propensity to return is also highest among the Muslims. • Return emigrants as a proportion of emigrants is about 56 % among the Muslims compared to just 47 % among the Hindus and Christians. Source: K. C. Zachariah, S. IrudayaRajan, March 2011, From Kerala To Kerala via the Gulf: Emigration Experiences of Return Emigrants, CDS, Thiruvananthapuram
Return Migration from UAE • About 40% of the population in the UAE are of Indian • The largest number of emigrants who returned during the recession period turned up from the UAE (46.4 %) • The crisis has not affected Saudi Arabia as much as Dubai in the United Arab Emirates • Of the UAE population of 6 million people, which comprises both Emiratis and foreigners, the largest group of foreigners is from India with 1.75 million people • 47,000 Indians are estimated as number of return emigrants from the UAE alone. Source: Irudaya Rajan and Narayana, 2010, CDS, Kerala
Return Migration from UAE • The workers in UAE seemed to be most affected • Companies cut jobs, particularly in the real estate sector • The most visible impact on the construction industry in Dubai • Dubai has been hit particularly hard because it was the region’s key financial center, and finance has taken a backseat amid the global economic slowdown • Construction, real estate, banking and tourism sectors, which have been badly hit by the global slowdown • The job opportunities in Dubai were primarily in construction, while in the other countries and emirates, the jobs were more broad-based • No official estimate of how many people are returning every week • The Dubai government is still in a denial phase and continues to repeat that there is no mass exodus of Indian workers • The Indian embassy in the UAE could not give precise figures of returnees
Return Migration from UAE Examples : • $59-billion debt woes of state-run Dubai World, one of the largest global conglomerates, has left thousands of Indian families worried, as the region accounts for half of the country’s $25-billion remittances • Proleads, a Dubai based property consultancy, estimated that 45 per cent of the country’s building projects had been delayed • Building boom stalled in 2009 - according to Morgan Stanley, real estate projects worth as much as £263bn have been delayed or scrapped in UAE • Around 1,500 to 2,000 fishermen from Sakthikulangara were employed in prestigious sea reclamation projects in the UAE, Due to the recession, almost 90% are back Source: The Guardian, Monday 6 April 2009, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/apr/06/
Return Migration from UAE • In UAE alone construction companies have halted or put on hold projects worth 582 billion dollars with no word on when work may resume • Recruiting agencies confirmed that hundreds of job visas were cancelled from across the Middle East • Overseas Development and Promotion Consultants Limited, which recruits Keralities for overseas jobs, stated that a recruitment fall has occurred due to recession in Middle East • 30,000 visas had been cancelled in Dubai in 2009-2010 Source: Inter Press Service: June 30, 2009,
How to handle the Return Migration? Source: Malayala Manorama, July 22, 2009 No all India level fiscal help The ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs was expecting a budgetary support for setting up a fund for returning Indian workers but the request could not be accommodated in the union budget of 2009 The Kerala budget, 2009 allotted Rs. 100 cr. for providing soft loans to Gulf returnees to start small businesses from their homes The state-owned Kerala Financial Corporation (KFC) will handle the package for Gulf returnees by providing entrepreneurial loans at a low interest rateof seven per cent Kerala has sought the GCC help to rehabilitate thousands of Gulf returnees by contributing to the state government fund.
How to handle the Return Migration? • Rs.10 crore to the Welfare Fund for Non-Resident Keralites • To gather the details of gulf returnees a special registration system has been introduced by NORKA • Steps to provide priority to children returning from Gulf for admission in the schools Source: BUDGET SPEECH 2009-2010, PART –VII, Welfare Measures, Dr. T. M. THOMAS ISAAC, 20th FEBRUARY, 2009
How to handle the return? • The government of Kerala has decided to issue photo identity cards for the non-resident Keralites working for a minimum of 6 months in a foreign country. • Swanthwana is a Relief Fund Scheme that has been launched for NRKs in distress. This scheme targets NRK returnees living on below poverty line and similarly placed dependents of deceased NRK’s. The scheme is devised to meet financial requirements for marriages, medical treatment etc. and posthumous aid to provide social security to and their family or dependents. • a rehabilitation scheme, a legal aid cell and a 24-hour helpline • anew centre will also be set up to improve the skill sets of those who want to go abroad for a job • new initiative is the setting up of an Overseas Employment Skill Testing Centre Kerala Budget, 2011, July 9 Source: http://www.indiavision.com/news/article/national/206110/
Hard Realities • The Government, the single largest beneficiary of the migrant remittances has no credible plans either to rehabilitate the return migrants or to use their skills • The return migrant would be confronted with great difficulties in getting the same job back or acquiring new one after remigration in the previous destination or new place • The return emigrant's contribution to the development of the state has fallen below expectations, considering the resources at their disposal • The total number of returnees in the state is estimated to be around 13 lakh and it is projected to reach 15.8 lakh by 2015 Source: The New Indian Express, 18 Apr 2011
Hard Realities • The plans of the State Government to create a data bank on Gulf countries following recession has suffered a setback as only an insignificant number of returnees has so far enrolled themselves in the data bank even after two years of its launch • Around 1,500 persons have so far enrolled themselves in the data bank being prepared by the NORKA-Roots • The poor response to the data bank will indeed torpedo the welfare initiatives of the Government for rehabilitation of the returnees • The lack of awareness among the targeted group is considered to be one major reason for the poor response to the data bank • Around 100 returnees availed of the loans being offered through the Kerala Financial Corporation • The response is not so encouraging. Most of the people are looking for trading activities. But as per KFC’s rules, it could not provide financial support to trading activities Source: Express News Service, 21 Jan 2011
After word :In 2008-2009, many Boeing 737s were ferrying laid-off Indian workers back from Dubai to Kozhikode, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram, and the principal cities in the southern Indian state of Kerala. They hope to return, but at the moment it doesn’t seem likely. Thank You
References • Centre for Development Studies. 2008. Global Financial Crisis and Kerala Economy: Impact and Mitigation Measures. Report submitted to the Government of Kerala. • IrudayaRajan, S. 2004. From Kerala to the Gulf: Impacts of Labour Migration. Asia Pacific Migration Journal, Volume 13, No.4, Pp. 497-509. • IrudayaRajan, S and D Narayana. 2010. The Financial Crisis in the Gulf and its Impact on South Asian Migrant Workers. Report Submitted to the Asian Development Bank and the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, Government of India. • IrudayaRajan, S and K C Zachariah. 2010c. Global Financial and Economic Crisis on Migration and Migrant Workers in India with Special Focus on Kerala. Report prepared for the International Labour Organization. • Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs. 2008. Annual report 2007-08. Government of India, New Delhi. • Zachariah, K.C and S IrudayaRajan. 2010. Impact Of The Global Recession On Migration And Remittances In Kerala: New Evidences From The Return Migration Survey (RMS) 2009. Centre for Development Studies Working Paper 432, Thiruvananthapuram. www.cds.edu